MORTON, Ill. (WMBD) — The village of Morton is taking center stage in a new fall film coming to a screen near you.
“Baking Up Love” is the film’s title and so far, it’s already generating quite the buzz in Morton.
The village proudly embraces its nickname as the “Pumpkin Capital of the World,” which is one of the reasons writer/director Candice Cain, president of Gemelli Film, said she chose the town for the film’s setting.
“When I wrote the outline, I did a search on ‘pumpkin capital of the world’ and Morton came up,” Cain said. “I started doing my research and I said ‘this is great.”
Cain said after a brief meeting and getting to see the place, pumpkins, and people up close, it was clear Morton was the perfect location.
“Mortonites are amazing,” Cain said. “They’re wonderful, friendly, the mayor is so enthusiastic.”
The film, which centers around the Morton Pumpkin Company’s CEO deciding to commemorate the town’s 200th anniversary by hosting an international bake-off at Morton’s Pumpkin Festival, started shooting Tuesday, May 18.
Advertisement for the film is now plastered around the heart of the village and Cain said there are placement opportunities for local businesses and people.
“I’m really trying hard to incorporate Mortonites into the film so we’re offering people to come to set and to be a part of the background,” Cain said.
Jeff Kaufman, the village’s mayor, said the film was a great opportunity that came at just the right time.
“We wanted to have something positive after a year of COVID, face masks, gas prices,” Kaufman said. “We had one shot at a movie. One time that’s going to line up with the Pumpkin Festival so we felt why not take it.”
Leigh Ann Brown, Executive Director of Morton’s Chamber of Commerce, said the process is also a great boost for the local economy and hopes to see the impact of the concept “tv tourism.”
“The impact of people wanting to visit the communities where movies take place,” Brown said. “They’re [cast & crew] staying here local, we have some of our hotels filled, we have other b&bs filled, we know they’ve been out to different restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”
Cain also said the original $75,000 grant they received has already been reinvested into the village by spending money in the town and also hiring locals.
One of the film’s actors Jeff Timmons, from the group 98 Degrees, is also hosting a nationwide competition where the winner will be cast as his wife in the film. Details on how to enter can be found here.
The movie will be released on Pureflix starting Sept. 1, and the cast and crew will return to Morton for a premiere on August 28.